John Oxley

John Oxley writes a newsletter about politics, history and culture

The Tories have become the party of the pensioner

In several countries across Europe, ‘pensioners parties’ sit in parliament expressly to reflect the interests of older voters. The most successful is perhaps Slovenia, where the Democratic Party of Pensioners had a parliamentary presence from 1992 to 2022, and often made up part of the governing coalition. In the UK, attempts to create pensioners parties

Sunak’s national service may end up backfiring

The idea of bringing back national service has been kicking around British politics for about five times longer than the policy itself lasted. Mandatory conscription was introduced by the Attlee government and dismantled gradually from 1957 to 1963. Those old enough to have experienced it will now be in their mid-80s. Following Rishi Sunak’s announcement

What we won’t learn from the Hartlepool terrorist attack

Just a week after Hamas’ deadly raid into Israel on 7 October, the conflict in the Middle East inspired a terror attack in a northern English town. Ahmed Alid, today sentenced to 45 years in prison for the attack, directly invoked Gaza as he stabbed two people. He maimed Javed Nouri, a fellow asylum seeker

Keir Starmer’s housing pledge has trapped the Tories

Sir Keir Starmer has broken cover on planning. In perhaps his most daring policy announcement so far, he has declared his intention to overhaul the planning system to free up more housing. When pressed on the morning media round he was clear – he would take the fight to NIMBYs and wouldn’t yield to backbenchers

The Tories are in free fall

A couple of weeks ago we were told it was Rishi Sunak’s best week ever. Now, it is hard to even remember why. The Rwanda Bill was passed, and the Prime Minister had some important photocalls playing statesman with European allies. Now it seems nothing the party can do will shift the dial. The local

Will Keir Starmer be the Yimby prime minister?

Keir Starmer seems intent on exploiting the rising divide between Nimbies and Yimbies as we move towards the general election. With polling showing many of Labour’s target seats are in the most pro-development parts of the country, the party is looking to reject the orthodoxy that blocking housing wins more votes than it loses. Instead,

The Tories have no excuse to whine about The Blob

The last few weeks have served as a reminder of the sort of conspiratorial, self-excusing hole the Conservative party could well go down in opposition. Speaking in the United States, Liz Truss blamed her premiership collapsing on the ‘wokenomics’ of the ‘deep state’, giving succour once more to the idea that the Tory party could

Is there a house-building cartel?

The Competition and Markets Authority report on the housing sector should be a boost to the Yimby policy machine. It expressed grave concerns about the housing market operating like a cartel, and said that much of this was enabled by the current planning system.  The CMA was tasked with looking at the housing market a

Sunak is playing it safe with new housing plans

Rishi Sunak seems to have realised a trick for pushing more building without confronting Tory Nimbyism. Under plans unveiled today, he’s going to ease restrictions on building in urban areas, where prices are most pressured and where Tory votes are rarely found. Councils missing their housing targets will be restricted in when they can refuse

The Tory party’s empty legacy

It was Evelyn Waugh who dismissed the Tories as having ‘never put the clock back a single second’. Now, even the party’s own MPs seem similarly sceptical, with Danny Kruger lamenting the last 14 years of power as leaving the country ‘sadder, less united and less conservative’. It’s one thing for a parliamentarian to bemoan

A tax break for the over-fifties is a terrible idea

Downing Street’s latest initiative to boost the workforce is a curious mix of good and bad ideas. In the past week Sunak has said he wants to reform the benefits system to get more disabled people into work. But he has also floated the idea of scrapping income tax for the over-fifties. And by combining

Gove is right to tackle EU pollution laws blocking housing

Michael Gove has announced today that the government will scrap EU-era pollution laws which are preventing homes being built. The move to liberalise the so-called ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules – which say that any new development can’t add additional nutrients into the environment – is designed to ease some of the bottlenecks around building and comes with

The Tories are heading for electoral evisceration

‘Whoever wins in September, the party will be stuck. Even in power it remains incapable of generating and delivering credible policies, incapable of using its resources to tackle the challenges ahead. In an uncertain world it struggles to decide what it wants to do, and struggles to implement the few ideas it has. The party

Michael Gove can’t solve the housing crisis by ignoring the suburbs

Michael Gove, one of the few ministers with a track record of getting stuff done, set out the government’s new housebuilding plans this morning. But will his policies actually help solve the housing crisis?  The British Dream is largely a suburban one, and Gove’s plan fails to address it Gove’s plans have focused on streamlining

Housing crisis

Britain has a Martin Lewis problem

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, has become the sage of the cost-of-living crisis. He is closing in on national treasure status, dispensing helpful advice on TV and online to help people avoid rip-off charges and ensure they are getting the benefits they are entitled to. This is all good work, but as the housing

Martin Lewis

Prince William should house the homeless on his lands

The Prince of Wales has announced that homelessness will be his charitable focus while he awaits his eventual succession to the Crown. In an announcement this week, he pledged £3 million as the start of a lifelong commitment to tackling the issue, which will begin by funding ‘housing first’ schemes in six areas, taking the

Why ‘Spotify dads’ are turning on the Tories

It’s probably never been cool to be a Tory. There will never be a Conservative youthquake – they are the unhip party, the unkissed party. Voting Conservative has always been a mark of being a bit older, a bit more settled down. Like a sensible saloon car and comfortable shoes, it was something you eased

Britain’s young are giving up hope

The Conservative party faces a new challenge in the battle to win back younger voters – how to sell the party of aspiration to a generation that has soured on ambition. Articles abound on the under forties drifting towards professional apathy, from quiet quitting to abandoning the rat race entirely. Now polling has indicated a